Snow sleuths winter tracking

Snow sleuths

Our naturalists don’t hibernate for the winter, and they’ve spotted some pretty neat creature tracks in the snow.

When you’re doing your own snow sleuthing, try these winter tracking tips.

We’ll be sharing snapshots of the hoof-, paw- and claw-prints we spot this winter, and inviting you to test your own wildlife identification skills!

So tell us, snow sleuths: who made these tracks?

Okay, #SnowSleuths: time to think outside the box. Which winter critter left this long slide mark?

Snow slide

Yes! This is…

…a OTTER‘s belly-slide!

These tracks are a familiar sight for many of our naturalists. Can you ID them?

familiar tracks

Yes! These are…

SNOWSHOE HARE prints!

Snowshoe hares are secretive, nocturnal and well camouflaged.  Remarkably, their brown summer fur changes white for the winter. It’s tough to spot a white hare against the snow, but their distinctive footprints are a clear giveaway!

How about these tracks from Algonquin Provincial Park?

tracks through snow

Right you are, sleuths! Those are the tracks of…

…a RUFFED GROUSE!

Spotted January 4, 2016 at Bronte Creek Provincial Park:

tracks

tracks

Although they were found close to a known opossum burrow, our naturalists believe these are actually…

RACCOON tracks!

A great tip to ID raccoon tracks? Look for the long fingers on the front paw (not a dog/canid track), a larger/longer hind paw track just behind and offset from the front paw.

Also, raccoons have a unique walking gait when traveling and foraging. This gait results in a pattern where front and hind tracks from opposite sides of the body appear next to each other (as in the first photo).

Check back next week for more #snowsleuths challenges!

Spot some unfamiliar tracks on your winter adventures? Tweet them to us with the hashtag #AskanOPNaturalist and we’ll try to ID them for you!